IDP Consistency Reports: Linebackers
The question of valuing players is the seemingly never-ending issue when it comes to fantasy football. Should you target a player with upside, or should it be someone who might have a lower ceiling but provides you with consistency week to week? What about if you had a way to combine both elements in one ranking? Well, here at FFStatistics, we have attempted to do just that with our Consistency Rating (COR). COR is created by taking a player’s calculated ceiling and dividing it by their coefficient of variation (more information on these and the math behind them at the bottom of the article).
Using COR, we can get an easy snapshot of where players rank weekly. We can also compare their COR value to their average fantasy points total. By looking at the difference between the two values, we can identify various subsets of players. Some players posted an average that looked great but using COR we can find out whether they were reliable or not on a week-to-week basis. The same goes for players who posted average points totals, which were not significant. Some did it and were wildly inconsistent, and others were pretty reliable.
In this next set of articles, we are going to switch our focus to the IDP side of things. However, instead of focusing on surprise names, we are going to look at the overall picture in greater detail than we did with the offensive side of the ball. We will be looking at which positions are the most reliable IDP contributors. We will also look at what made some players stood out among the crowd last season. This article will look at the linebackers.
IDP Scoring System
More than the offensive side of the ball, the scoring system for IDP makes a massive difference to players values. Depending on which plays are emphasized by the scoring system, it will alter the importance of individual players. If interceptions are a premium scorer, then defensive backs see a boost. If sacks or tackles for loss get boosted, then the emphasis leans more to the defensive line.
For this article, I will be using a scoring system often seen as standard in IDP fantasy football. The scoring is as follows:
- 1.5 per solo tackle
- 0.5 per assisted tackle
- 2 per forced fumble
- 2 per fumble recovery
- 4 per sack
- 4 per interception
- 6 per touchdown
- 1 per pass deflected
Linebacker Consistency Rankings
|Telvin Smith Sr.||JAX||162||10.13||4.22||0.42||5.91||14.34||34.43|
|Leighton Vander Esch||DAL||170||10.63||5.8||0.55||4.82||16.43||30.09|
|Jamie Collins Sr.||CLV||144||9||4.34||0.48||4.66||13.34||27.65|
|Thomas Davis Sr.||CAR||95.5||7.96||3.96||0.5||4||11.92||23.94|
|Kyle Van Noy||NE||130.5||8.16||4.74||0.58||3.42||12.89||22.2|
Many of the names occupying top-10 positions will not be a shock to football fans. Among that top-10 we find established elites such as Preston Brown, Bobby Wagner, Luke Kuechly, Lavonte David and Telvin Smith Sr. In fact, once you get outside the top-10 there are no major shocks, with Kwon Alexander and Deion Jones making the top-20.
The stand out names are likely the rookies, and we have three of them in the top-20. Darius Leonard was the story of the season and Leighton Vander Esch got his fair share of coverage. Tremaine Edmunds slipped under the radar a little this past season, and for that reason could be a value pick next season in drafts.
Among the other surprises, people were shocked by the play of Mason Foster this season, but nothing he did was particularly different from what we saw two years ago. The injury to Reuben Foster in the offseason workouts should provide Mason with the opportunity to provide a strong IDP return once again next season.
Off-ball vs. Pass rush
You will notice immediately that there are not many pass rush linebackers among the top names when it comes to consistency. That is because rushing the passer is often not a consistent metric. In fact, in the large part, the majority of the top-30 are inside off-ball linebackers. Some of that is because pass rushing linebackers can be classed as defensive ends by some leagues.
However, the likes of Bradley Chubb and Jadeveon Clowney are classed as linebackers in this system and they finished outside of the top-50 when it comes to linebacker consistency ratings. Even if you rank the linebackers by average points they do not fare much better. Ranked by average Clowney is spot on the 50th ranked player using this scoring system. Chubb sits another 12 spots lower, which can be put down to him being a rookie. The trouble is that the type of player fantasy owners would expect Chubb to become is Clowney.
What we can see here is that pass rushers just simply do not have value for IDP leagues. Leagues which reward sacks and quarterback hits boost their value, but in the bog-standard format, they are fairly irrelevant. However, their name value will ensure they get over-drafted. The lesson here is not to be that person. Load up on interior linebackers, and let someone else chase the pass rushers.
Linebackers Overall Among IDP Options
The linebackers are the dominant force when it comes to the IDP consistency rankings, Three of the top five and six of the top 10 overall are linebackers, and that trend of three in five holds fairly consistent as we go down through the rankings. The reason is that in this scoring system tackling is rewarded the highest, and linebackers do that more than anyone else.
In “big-play” scoring systems, which reward sacks and interceptions, then the secondary and the defensive linemen move up the rankings a little. However, largely consistency rankings stay similar, because “big plays” are not consistent. Yes, those other positions will move up based on total and average scoring, but their results are still as inconsistent as they are in this scoring system.
The Lesson For The Position
The main lesson with the linebacker position is that consistency is key. In terms of how you should approach them for draft purposes, the answer is somewhat mixed. On one hand, they are a group that you can rely on. However, because so many of them are consistent that also depresses their value a little. Why reach for the position when you can get consistency at any point? The positive that we have seen here is that the guys we expect to see near the top were there. Therefore, you can feel confident selecting the best at the position, knowing that a fair number of them will be among the best consistency wise when the season ends.
Ultimately, as with any position, there are some absolute standouts but once they have gone the strategy changes a little. As the consistency across the position is so strong, you can feel comfortable letting your tiers wind down and grabbing the last name or two in that tier. However, you draft the position, these are the guys who will be the engine room of your IDP teams year after year. In dynasty leagues they are assets worth investing in with a decent amount of capital.
The Math Behind the Stats
For those of you interested here is how all of the numbers that make up the consistency rating (COR) are produced. I am going to go full geek mode here so I fully understand if you just want to bypass this section and take my word for it!
Standard Deviation and Coefficient of Variation
First, we need to look at the average and standard deviation for that player. The standard deviation quantifies how spread out the numbers are. However, raw standard deviation numbers are messy to look at and hard to take in. They are also biased by the average of the player. A player with a lower average will have a bigger change in standard deviation for smaller relative changes in fantasy points than a player with a larger average weekly score. Therefore, we use another factor called the coefficient of variation (C.V.). C.V. takes the standard deviation and divides it by the average, allowing you to compare two players side by side regardless of their weekly average.
There is a downside of using C.V. If a player is consistently bad he will have a low C.V. and rank highly if we simply ranked players by that metric. Therefore, we need to look at a way to incorporate a players weekly points total. To do this we can calculate a players floor and ceiling, using their average and standard deviation. Over time the fantasy points scored by a player follow a normal distribution. With normal distribution we see the percentage of observations fall within one, two, or three standard deviations either side of the mean.
68% of the observations will fall within one standard deviation either side of the mean. 95% within two standard deviations and 99.7% within three standard deviations. The wider we go with the standard deviations the harder it is to accurately predict a player. Therefore, the floors and ceilings are calculated by looking at the values which fall one standard deviation either side of a players weekly average.
Finally, the COR itself. COR is calculated by taking a player’s calculated ceiling and dividing it by the C.V. The higher the number the better that player ranks as a risk/reward play for fantasy owners. COR gives weight to players who have a high ceiling, but also to those who are consistent. Players who consistently put up big points totals rank highly and players who are highly variable fall further down the rankings.